YMCA Seeking Neighborhood Assistance Grant

Create healthy lifestyle habits among youth and adults to combat substance abuse and support recovery. The Clinton County Family YMCA, under the direction of CEO Tristen Comegys, is seeking a neighborhood assistance grant to help in the area of community development.

In our county, the Clinton County Family Y is the only public wellness and exercise facility in the community. Not to mention, the only non-profit wellness facility that focuses on empowering young people to reach their full potential. That is why the 2014 Treatment Episode Data Set provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration caught our attention. Among admissions to a substance abuse facility 74% began substance use at the age of 17 or younger. This triggered us to ask what could we do to support youth in a way that will guide them toward healthier lifestyle choices to decrease the risk of adolescence substance abuse. In Clinton County, we have an alternative school that services over 100 youth per year who didn’t fit into a traditional education track for various reasons. Many of these students are considered at risk students in the community. During the most recent school year we had the opportunity to work with them and the impact was humbling.

If we were to receive this grant we would be able to offer complimentary Y memberships to the student body of our local alternative school. During the 2018-2019 school year, students attended the Y every Friday as a way to earn their gym credit to graduate high school. While they were at the Y they learned how to exercise properly through the use of fitness equipment and had the opportunity to explore activities they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to try, like pickle ball. We realized that the takeaways were much greater than how to lift a dumbbell properly. We heard these teens laughing, watched them build positive relationships, and their curiosity peaked. We were able to show them that they are greater than being labeled as alternative students, they are greater than the poverty that they may live in, and they can accomplish things greater than they imagined. Pairing membership with the current program in place would increase our impact from 40 days to 365 days per year.

This grant would create a lasting impact in our community in three areas. The first area is impacting the lives of over 100 students per year. This program will increase their confidence and educate them on healthier lifestyle choices which will increase their opportunities for future success. The second area of impact would be a heightened community awareness of substance abuse prevention among youth and an alternative wellness approach for those recovering from substance abuse. This grant would create buzz in our community about taking a wellness and hands on education approach. The third area of impact would be for our Y to extend complimentary memberships to those adults and youth who are pursuing substance abuse treatment. We have several substance abuse treatment facilities in our community with a new one on the way. Working side by side with these experts and people already affected by this epidemic is vital for long term community impact.